Open or closed showers?

Open or closed showers?

For many, to have an open shower, that is one with its components visible to the surrounding spaces, like a bedroom, is a rather unsettling notion. And for obvious reasons. Needless to say, it is a matter of heated debate to reconcile our understanding of the modern-day definition of privacy. It is a topic that incites vehement responses, leaving many bewildered.

However, the most primary concern about an open shower is relative to a person’s habit and lifestyle. “The one thing that needs immediate attention is knowing if yours and your partner’s routines mirror each other. If the follow-up reply is negative, then it’s a serious red flag. An open bath means having a certain degree of alignment in schedules, be it the noise of the shaving drill, showering and everything in between.

On the other hand, if you live alone, these red flags can easily be erased or ignored and an open bath could actually be a welcome bliss,” says interior designer Parul Amla of Antrik Design Studio, New Delhi. So, here are a few pros and cons of open and closed showers that will help you make the right decision.

Privacy: Beyond the sink area, privacy in the bath is based on an individual’s personal decision or preference. There are high degrees of correlations between the two spaces as they are regarded as the most intimate of areas.

If complete privacy is your thing, then an enclosed shower is apt for you. You can have a private bathing experience with shower walls or even glass. Shower walls and glass can either be fully-transparent or semi-transparent, while the glass enclosure can be etched for added privacy. On the flipside, glass walls will get soaked in water droplets and it can be a time consuming affair to clean up after every shower usage. It may even become more labour-intensive if you have hard water in the taps.

Without a clear demarcation between your bed space and bath, the eye is tricked into visualising an enlarged area with open expanses and vistas. It also gives a feel of luxe and opulence that is found in large hotel rooms and spas. On the downside, there could be lack of privacy, a feeling that a lot of people may not easily welcome. However, a simple solution to the above can be a shower curtain or glass door. While shower curtains are still an option for some home owners, glass doors are also a common choice. Glass doors may or may not be fully enclosed, depending on the homeowner’s choice of privacy.

Functionality: There is a case to be made for open versus closed showers inside a residence. But if your showering needs are for the outdoors, like a swimming pool area at home, then that perception could change. Depending on your needs, you can go in for the most viable option.

In the guest or master bedroom for example, it is more convenient to have an enclosed shower that multiple users can use at any given time of the day. It will also give the guest more space to stow away toiletries or to sit down and read, if needed.

Typically, for outdoor usage, an open shower is the most preferred option. They have the benefit of ease of access and the ability to go in and out without a barrier. Swimming pools and cabanas mostly make use of this open feature. Another functionality of open showers is for those that need zero entry into the bath.

This is commonly known as curbless shower and it typically serves people who have mobility issues, like those on a wheelchair, or the elderly. However, the space needs to be bigger for easy clearance and mobility.

But who says a middle ground cannot be reached between an open and closed shower? It is obvious that an en suite bathroom works well for some and doesn’t for many, primarily due to its lack of privacy. Moreover, it is not a matter of debate that the most private function of the bathroom, the toilet, should not be on display.

However, the need for privacy doesn’t really have to extend to every other function of the bathroom and it is in this area where there is room for openness and flexibility.

So here are some genuine ideas on marrying openness with privacy in an en suite bathroom and ways to make the two work in tandem.
Containing moisture

Bathrooms have the ability of gathering a lot of moisture into the room. Without a partition or wall separating the bath space from the bed space, the open bath cannot contain humidity or odours. In this case, a modern exhaust system will help.

Calculate the total space of your room to determine the right size of exhaust you will need to exchange air. A fresh-air ventilation system is a must-have in any residential space. But an open bath will need a slightly more than basic system and perhaps even a boost switch to augment the speed at which air is exchanged, when the bath area is in use.

The shower is the single most powerful source of moisture accumulation, whereas a sink has its own ventilation pre-requisites. Excess build-up of moisture takes place only when there isn’t sufficient air exchange. A good design space for an open shower is positioning the exhaust system in the water closet and the shower and fresh air close to the sleeping area.

Permanent divider

Install a freestanding wall of cabinetry as a divider between your bath and bed space. The wall will not only segregate light between the two zones, but will also double up as a storage area. Since the wall won’t touch the ceiling, it has that feeling of openness.

Movable dividers

Consider a large pocket door or a sliding screen to transform an open shower into  a private one when needed. The screen can be placed anywhere in the shower area without completely cutting out light.

Etched glass

As mentioned earlier, the degree of privacy needed in the shower is really a matter of personal choice. But if the shower is placed right next to the bed, then  consider having an etched glass partition. This will balance out privacy concerns while maintaining a degree of openness.

As is the case with everything in life, there are pros and cons to open and closed showers too. But think of it in terms of your lifestyle and usage. And be sure to opt for a shower that is in sync with your family’s and your needs.

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